Province ready to hold back Ottawa LRT funding due to safety concerns

·1 min read
Caution tape is strung up next to the site of an LRT train derailment on Ottawa's Confederation Line on Sept. 19, 2021.  (Nicholas Cleroux/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Caution tape is strung up next to the site of an LRT train derailment on Ottawa's Confederation Line on Sept. 19, 2021. (Nicholas Cleroux/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The Ontario government says it will hold back $60 million in LRT funding, asking the City of Ottawa to prove provincial dollars are being properly spent on making the LRT safe and meeting industry standards after recent issues temporarily gutted the service.

In a letter addressed to the city's rail director Michael Morgan, Ontario's Ministry of Transportation raises concerns over several recent issues — specifically a derailment in August and another in September.

The LRT has been out of service for a month and a half as of Wednesday, since a train derailed on Sept. 19 before entering Tremblay station.

"We would like assurances that provincial funding is being used for assets and infrastructure that are safe and meet industry standards," wrote Vrinda Vaidyanathan, a director with the ministry's oversight and partnership division, in a letter dated Nov. 2.

The province committed $600 million for Stage 1 and just over $1.2 billion for Stage 2, Vaidyanathan noted.

The letter asks the city for three things:

  • Proof from an independent engineer confirming the engineering and construction work — that the city is responsible for — meets industry standards.

The province said it will hold off on giving Ottawa $60 million until these documents, as well as an outstanding final compliance audit report, are submitted to the ministry.

A spokesperson for the mayor's office confirmed it received the letter earlier Wednesday, and noted it "appears to be standard due diligence" by the Ontario government.

"The city has already undertaken to address all issues raised in the letter," the mayor's press secretary said in an email, adding Watson asked the city manager to review it and give council a "more fulsome update" soon.

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